Leonid meteor shower 2017: Date, time and best location for Leonids | Science | News

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When is the Leonid meteor shower this year?

The Leonid shooting stars will peak this year in the early morning hours of Friday November 17, continuing into the following morning of Saturday November 18.

Individual meteors can bee seen throughout the month of November, but it is during the peak when the real show takes place.

During this brief timeframe, the modest shower will produce anywhere between 10 to 15 falling stars across the night sky.

Every 33 years or so, the Leonids are known to explode with up to 1,000 meteors bursting out in the night in what is known as the Leonid Storm – unfortunately this will not happen till 2034.

Such a jaw-dropping display happened in 2003 and 1996, when according to , the meteors fell abundantly like rainfall.

The American agency said: “Thousands of meteors per minute fell through Earth’s atmosphere during a 15-minute period.” 

“There were so many meteors seen that they appeared to fall like rain.”

What is the best time to see the Leonid meteor shower?

The most optimal outbursts take place in the early morning hours between midnight and dawn, when the sky is it at its darkest.

Nasa advises: “The Leonids are best viewed starting at about midnight local time. 

“Be patient – the show will last until dawn, so you have plenty of time to catch a glimpse.”


The Leonid meteor shower radiates from the Leo the Lion constellation

Where to best watch the Leonids?

For the best results, remember to stay away from sources of urban light pollution such as houses and lamps.

Head out into the countryside or a national park, where the lack of light and air pollution gives way to crystal clear skies.

The Leonids are best viewed starting at about midnight local time


Additionally, the birth of a New Moon on November 18, should keep the skies clear of any moonlight that might obscure the view.

Clear wide open areas are usually a good bet for getting the best viewing angle of the shower.

Nasa also recommends that you orient yourself with your feet to the east, by lying down in a sleeping bag, on a blanket or in a lawn chair.

You should also give your eyes about 20 to 30 minutes to fully adjust to the dark once you settle down.

Leonid meteor shower 2017GETTY

Every 33 years the Leonid Storm produces up to 1,000 meteors an hour

Where will the Leonid meteors appear in the sky?

The meteor shower is named after the constellation Leo the Lion, and originates from a point around Leo’s head – the stars Adhafera and Algeiba.

But the good news for amateur astronomers is they can ditch the telescope and binoculars before they head out.

The shower’s radiant point is largely irrelevant, and the meteors will streak out in every single direction once they burst out.

Nasa said: “You should not look only to the constellation of Leo to view the Leonids – they are visible throughout the night sky.

“It is actually better to view the Leonids away from the radiant: They will appear longer and more spectacular from this perspective. 

“If you do look directly at the radiant, you will find that the meteors will be short – this is an effect of perspective called foreshortening.”

And remember to be quick, because the Leonids are some of the quickest shooting stars.

Nasa added: “They are also fast: Leonids travel at speeds of 71 km (44 miles) per second, and are considered to be some of the fastest meteors out there.”

What are the Leonid meteors?

The Leonids are cosmic remnants of comet 55P/Tempel-Tuttle, which slam into the atmosphere every year. Temple-Tuttle orbits the sun every 33 years.

The comet was independently discovered in 1865 by Ernst Temple and in 1866 by Horace Tuttle, and the joint discovery earned it its name.

According to Nasa, the Leonids are known for their trailing fireballs and earthgrazing meteors – which spectacularly explode and trail across the sky with long colourful tails.

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